American Business Goes Hollywood

Why waste corporate money on customer-angering PC causes?

Ever since the invention of modern celebrity in the 1920s, the business of Hollywood has revolved around an appearance of vast sums of money.  Movie stars aren't just well-off, they're impossibly rich or at least live as if they were.  The business folks, though less well-known to mere mortals, have become accustomed to similar lavish lifestyles.  The entire industry revels in conspicuous consumption in a way that perhaps exceeds any other save royalty and high-level politicians.

This works because, traditionally, successful movies make great heaping piles of money.  Unlike most ordinary goods, intellectual properties like movies are not really interchangeable; if you want to go see The Dark Knight, you aren't going to consider watching a dubbed Hong Kong import instead even if it's half the price.  Hollywood can mostly charge whatever it pleases, so long as it makes flicks that enough people want to see badly enough to shell out.

Given how much most folks appreciate money, you'd think Hollywood would, in fact, make every effort to make movies that the vast majority of people enjoy enough to pay for.  Interestingly, they don't.

During the waning years of the Bush administration while America was at war, Hollywood churned out a constant flow of war movies.  In virtually every one of them, American soldiers or officials were the villains.  This reflected the well-known far-left biases of Hollywood denizens, but didn't sit well with the viewing public: they all bombed, losing millions of dollars.  The same is true with hardcore anti-religion movies.

It's not as if Hollywood doesn't know better.  Mel Gibson's deeply religious The Passion of the Christ was a history-making hit.  Unique among history-making hits, it spawned exactly zero imitators.  Patriotism sells too: where the most recent Superman movie, in which his all-American nature was intentionally obscured, made disappointing returns, the flag-waving Captain America did far better than expected.

A Business?  Or A Mission?

The stars and executives of Hollywood understand clearly that, as much as they are in a business that needs to make money, they also steer America's culture and to some extent the world's.  The direction they want to steer is pretty plain, and their dedication to doing so becomes more and more obvious the more money they lose.

But what about more prosaic businesses that make no pretense of influencing the culture?  What does selling coffee, underwear, or sandwiches have to do with the culture wars?

More than you might think.  Homosexuals are stereotypically famous for a sense of style and probably would never be caught dead buying clothes at Target, yet Target finds it prudent to do a special promotion trumpeting their donation to a homosexual "marriage" activist organization.

Starbucks sells coffee that anyone can drink.  Why is it important for them not only to donate to a campaign to keep homosexual "marriage" legal in Washington state, but actually to rank that political position as a corporate policy?

Amazon sells books of every sort under the sun.  Why did Amazon's founder make a $2.5 million donation in support of gay marriage?

Corporations have invested money in politics since the beginning of time, of course.  As our Supreme Court has made clear, the First Amendment protects their right to keep on investing in buying politicians.  We agree with the court, and wouldn't want any government ban on anyone's donations to anything they believe in, whether corporate or personal.

Companies, however, unlike individuals, are supposed to be solely about making money.  So where's the benefit?  They have that right, yes; but what is the purpose?

It's obvious why unions donate to Democrats: Democrats want to grow the size of government, hiring more government workers who are forced to pay union dues feathers the nests of union bosses.  It's obvious why defense contractors might want to donate to Republicans: Republicans usually raise military budgets and buy more weapons.  From the point of view of pure profit, these investments are sensible.

But aside from gay bars, high-end clothiers, and proctologists, where's the business benefit in lauding homosexuals?  Even by the most generous estimates, active homosexuals are a tiny minority.  As consumers, they're far outnumbered by the religiously devout who find homosexuality an abomination.

The latest results from Chick-fil-A show this to be true: Despite virtually every media outlet in the country castigating COO Dan Cathy as a bigot for calling homosexual marriage wrong and fascist politicians threatening to use the force of government against his restaurants, the latest news reports show massively increased sales even in the bluest of states.  From the purely mercenary view, his anti-homosexual interview was a work of genius that's made his stockholders millions and make millions of potential customers more aware of his products.

More than Money

So why don't more American businesses, at least the ones that market to religiously-conservative middle America, follow Dan Cathy's example for their own financial good?  There can only be one reason: as with Hollywood, our business elites find their own religious beliefs more important than money and they are willing to spend their stockholders' money in order to further them.

That is their right, and we would never want to take it away from them.  But America's shareholders have rights too: rights to demand that executives of companies they own stop wasting stockholder money on political causes the stockholders find repellent.  Executives have the right to their opinions and the authority to spend company money on them; they don't have a right to keep their jobs if stockholders disagree with their actions.

Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day has proved that, yes, there is a "Moral Majority" after all.  When we bother to act like the majority we are, we can accomplish amazing feats of visible backlash.

Don't stop now!  Surely we can hold our upright American beliefs at least as dear as our leftist Hollywood and national elites hold their debauched heresies.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Business.
Reader Comments

Great read, and your analysis is right again.

The problem is one of perception. It is perceived by the majority that Hollywood and the MSM's view of "those backwood bigots on the right" is EVERYONE'S perception.

Hollywood and the MSM set the narrative that tends to be repeated around the internet and pop culture. The right doesn't realize that if they collectively ignored that narrative and plowed forward, the narrative would disappear in a sea of conservative actions, words, books, movies, endorsements, business success, etc. because we are in fact the majority.

A lot of the business elites who donate or support lefty causes don't actually believe in any of it themselves. They only believe in the narrative - "gay marriage is only opposed by old fashioned bigots and I don't want to be a bigot". Business elites tend to have pragmatic political views. What they personally believe is irrelevant to their business. The business needs to believe in whatever the 'cool' beliefs are.

Every time we see these backlashes (remember the rise of the Tea Party in 09?) it follows the same 'surprising' path. What the---? You mean the rallies are really that big?!?? You mean people really like Chik-Fil-A that much?? Even with all the funding and endorsements, the ballot referendum failed again? Even in California?!? WOW.

And most of the time, we conservatives are a surprised as everyone else. That's the power of the media narrative. Perception is everything and the media narrative sets perception. If children were taught to think, the media would have less success setting perception.

August 7, 2012 9:43 AM

The liberal groups like the gays, PETA, NOW, etc. all threaten businesses with boycotts. So what? Wear it as a bdage of honor. Now let's consider this possibility. We, the moral majority buycott the movies, boycott NBC,
boycott Starbucks, boycott anyone who gives corporate money to these type organizations. Trust me, a 15-20% dip in sales and they will run over these organizations and never look back. Why doesn't the moral majority do this? They are not organized. Perhaps we need moral majority organizer like some communities. We have the power and won't use it.

August 7, 2012 12:46 PM

Busybody nanny-state liberals have an advantage over those of us who want to be let alone. They can go work for the agency that pushes their agenda.

PETA raises money; people who manage the money can spend full-time trampling our rights, whereas we have to work for a living. Same with welfare folks - they can spend full time lobbying. Same with ecos - they get lots of money to spend full time on their agenda.

Sodomites don't have kids to raise, that gives them LOTS more time to lobby and harass.

Governmetn employees lie about being sick and take taxpayer-paid time to lobby. We can't do that - we have to learn a living.

NRA has been successful countering them - their guys care enough to pay dues to beat back the liberals. So has HSLDA - their guys pay dues to protect parents from social workers and educrats. We need more organizations like that.

August 7, 2012 9:47 PM

For a while now, the national Democrat Party has become ever more supportive of the gay agenda. [Please, no one repeat the talking point that there is no gay agenda. Gay activists want to redefine marriage, allow same-sex couples to foster or adopt children, allow gays to serve openly in the military and have homosexuality treated analogously to race by receiving special legal treatment in employment, education and in school curricula - none of these things is a secret.] The Republican Party establishment, for its part, has decided to not oppose the DP's promotion of the gay agenda. It is a standard part of the Republican Party establishment's narrative that the Republican base needs to stay united on promoting economic conservatism and to avoid being "divisive" by opposing the social radicals who are waging the cultural war. Importantly, the default position of the GOP establishment is to surrender in the culture war when it could just as easily be to support traditional values with those willing to join the aggressors in the culture war being characterized as "divisive". That default position indicates that the people running the GOP support the gay agenda as much as do those who run the Democrat Party, although they sometimes use rhetoric in opposition to the gay agenda in order to placate the Republican base.

The support of the political class for gay causes is not lost on corporate executives. Board members know that their companies risk retribution from politicians, regulators and other government agencies if they don't shell out corporate cash for gay political activity. Recipients of crony capitalist handouts are particularly vulnerable and the mountains of tax dollars handed-out to the financial sector mean that the political class can lean on financial institutions to bully other corporations into supporting gay and other leftist causes. Add in the name-calling and smear campaigns waged by most of the media and by the entertainment industry against those corporations who dare to support traditional sexual morality and it becomes easy to see why companies are willing to provide support for organizations who are attacking the values of the majority of the company's customers.

The only way to "fix" this problem is to reduce the size and scope of the government. As usual, an overarching government has caused problems and tensions which manifest themselves at least partly in the private sector.

August 8, 2012 1:39 PM
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